Is there a "go fast" gene?

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3/20/2013 11:03 AM

Seriously, though, why do some people just seem to go incredibly fast on everything?

For example my brother and I...he's faster than me at everything we do (BMX, mountain biking, go carts, motocross, off road, motorcycles). And I think all it comes down to is that he can turn off the "fear/caution" part of his brain better than me. He'll pin it, when I'll let off because the "fear" side of my brain won't allow me to twist the grip.

We ride off road all the time together and we wear POV cameras...and then we'll watch the videos side by side...and it happens over and over again....there will be a particular obstacle (rock, turn, tree, blind spot, whatever) and I'll let off, and he'll just keep it pinned and make a ton of time on me.

So why are some people able to do that better/more often than others? Is it a gene? A personality trait?

Is that what separates a guy like Andrew Short from Ryan Villopoto? Both are in great shape, both are incredibly talented, both have great equipment...but, RV just keeps it pinned when AS lets off a little bit?

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3/20/2013 11:10 AM

There apparently is a fearlessness/risk taking/forget pain gene. I think National Geo mag had an article about it awhile back.

I also think great riders have exceptional inner ears/vestibular systems. Personally, I think that ultimately is the difference maker.

Put those two together and you have someone who can go for it and stay on the bike.

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Twitter: @ftemoto
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3/20/2013 11:16 AM

No. The thing all the great's have in common is a good mental condition that is above the norm.

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3/20/2013 11:22 AM

FreshTopEnd wrote:

There apparently is a fearlessness/risk taking/forget pain gene. I think National Geo mag had an article about it awhile back.

I also think great riders have exceptional inner ears/vestibular systems. Personally, I think that ultimately is the difference maker.

Put those two together and you have someone who can go for it and stay on the bike.

FTE: "I think National Geo mag had an article about it awhile back."

Hey Michael, i would like to read that, do you know if it has an archive online?

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-OC
"Feed The Bull"
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3/20/2013 11:24 AM

I've thought about this a lot over the years. and my take is yes, that is what seperates Villopoto, Barcia, Carmichael, Hannah, etc from the guys like Dungey, Windham and Short.

Jeff Stanton said something in an interview with Steve Matthes that I've always believed: "You can't teach aggression".
He was talking about Barcia and taming the aggression a bit vs trying to teach it.

I figured this out with my brother as well... Growing up, he always had that talent. He was better at everything than most kids the first time he'd try it. I was the little brother with a talent defficiency. I learned to work hard and most importantly I learned aggression. After a while I would beat my brother at just about anything. My aggression keeps me racing and helps me win. My brother quit riding and doing all that sort of stuff. It was easy for him, so he lost interest.

Sometimes you get a guy who has above average talent and has that aggressive side, the type who never gives in and works hard. That's your Carmichael, Hannah, Villopoto, etc. They don't have the talent of a Windham, Lechein, Bradshaw, etc but they have something more valuable for a racer.

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3/20/2013 11:28 AM

seems like the red-heads can twist it a little further.

no idea why.

had a ginger in my age group BMX racing and we all though he had a motor on his 20" powerlite.

on a serious note, not to gloat, but i have a group of friends that i'm always that little bit better than them at everything. mx, bmx, dirtjumping, mtnbikes, pool, golf, videogames, baggin' fatties, nunchucks, etc. my one friend takes it personal. i think it's a competitive nature of some people are not willing to be beat. not saying i'm unable to be beat, but i am a very very competitive dude.

good topic Titan, bro

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3/20/2013 11:38 AM

FreshTopEnd wrote:

There apparently is a fearlessness/risk taking/forget pain gene. I think National Geo mag had an article about it awhile back.

I also think great riders have exceptional inner ears/vestibular systems. Personally, I think that ultimately is the difference maker.

Put those two together and you have someone who can go for it and stay on the bike.

That inner ear thing is an interesting point (I THINK it has to do with balance, right?) My brother is just a tick faster than me in most places...but in the slower more technical parts of a trail, he is about 4 or 5 ticks faster than me. I've always said its because he has better balance-which he does.

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3/20/2013 11:42 AM

What makes a kid separate himself from the pack as early as 6 or 7? I grew up in the era of Pastrana, Wey, Marley, Fonesca, etc.. the guys who won championships as amateurs and had at least marginal success as pros were ALWAYS faster, even from the very beginning. I had some good runs with top 10s in some tough classes but at no point was I ever competition for the likes of Pastrana. I doubt he rode more than me, he damn sure was more frail than I was. So what about him made it so that he could ride that stupid Suzuki at least 2 seconds a lap faster than my best pace?

The only exceptions to the rule I've ever seen are Andrew Short and Ivan Tedesco. Both of those guys were roughly my speed as amateurs. When Andrew especially turned pro he did about what I expected. But then somehow he did what most people consider impossible, which is gain significant speed after turning pro.

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3/20/2013 11:49 AM

I think the inner ear thing is often associated to "talent"... I group it in there...

It has to be true though. Think about a fighter pilot. They have to have some insanely quick reflexes. Perhaps the rest of us can train our brains to that level, but they already have it naturally.

Tell me that Travis Pastrana isn't just the most fearless, balanced kid with insane-quick reflexes of this modern age. He lacks one thing... The focus to pick one subject and dedicate himself to it.

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3/20/2013 11:50 AM

Don't think you can narrow it down to just one factor like superior balance or lack of fear. While each of those things may be a necessary ingredient, I believe it is a combination of a few things that for some, come together in a perfect storm. Any person who rises to the top of their chosen,(some might say destined), field has that beautiful mix.

As case in point, those fine young men riding my cousin's stolen bike on one wheel through the streets of Baltimore display an awesome sense of balance. I'd be willing to bet few of them could ride a track or even a trail as well as your average B class rider, despite being able to out-wheelie most. Pure speculation, but I'd bet.

One of the characteristics mentioned in that "old guy" video posted earlier was vision. I've always thought that the really fast guys have the ability to see and process things differently than the average joe. Don't think this has ever been studied, but I'd be interested to see about it.

H

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3/20/2013 12:04 PM
Edited Date/Time: 3/20/2013 12:15 PM

I don't know if it is genetic or what, but I think some people are just destined to be better at motocross. I have heard natural reaction time, co-ordination and balance suggested as factors that determine someone's potential as a rider. I'm sure it is a combination of a lot of things, and fearlessness would probably have a significant bearing, too. I guess all sports have a specific set of traits that will separate peoples ability. I suppose that is what is commonly referred to as "talent."

In reference to what Peelout said, my best friend as a child was one of those guys who was just good at everything - Rugby, Cricket, Athletics, Distance Running, Swimming, Gymnastics, Target Shooting, Golf etc - and he was pretty fast on a dirtbike, too. However,one of the other guys in our crew was just a munter (granted he must've had some talent) - he would just send it and was faster at motocross. My buddy was so used to being the best at everything that this pissed him off no end. He would ride virtually everyday, but could never close the gap. In the end, he got so frustrated that he gave the sport away

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3/20/2013 12:12 PM
Edited Date/Time: 3/20/2013 12:15 PM

Pastrana did pick one thing and stuck to it. MAKING MONEY, He figured out how to do so in whatever he tries, Smartest motorcycle rider ever or just the best publicised.

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Twist the grip off of it! Slinging parts and service at Marine World.

3/20/2013 12:17 PM

i remember andrew short mentioning what allows certain people to be fast, and it made sense to me. He said it's the ability for a persons brain to process whats going on better. to be able to take in whats coming at you, adjust and react to it. if we tried to go stew's speed, we'd cartwheel and not even know what happened because our brains can't process what's going on fast enough. i think this is true for any racing, but with moto you obviously have the athletic side of things (balance, strength etc...).

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3/20/2013 12:18 PM

Yes, most definitely.For some the world moves at a different speed. They see things and react in a different way. I believe it's genetic. Heck you can't tel me having 3 Mannings play starting quarterback isn't genetics's

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The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value.

3/20/2013 12:22 PM

Something that might also be a factor is confidence. Those who do well from the day they start become accustomed to doing well, and expect it every time they race. Those who are just average the day they start (like me) expect to just be average and subconsciously settle for that.

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3/20/2013 12:23 PM

Motocross is like any sport or occupation.

To be the best, you need to have a high IQ, EQ, BQ, and MQ. When RC was a rookie, he had extremely high IQ (moto brilliance), EQ (self knowledge, personal ownership, in moment), BQ (lacked fitness compared to some of the competition), and MQ (raced within the rules and ethics of MX). It wasnt until he increased his BQ that he beat Mcgrath in SX (Aldon Baker as fitness coach). I'll give some examples:

RV: IQ (motocross brilliance off the charts), EQ (emotional intelligence off the charts), BQ (increased significatly with Aldon Baker), MQ

RD5: IQ (motocross brilliance off the charts), EQ (emotional intelligence off the charts), BQ, MQ

KW: IQ (motocross brilliance off the charts), EQ (emotional intelligence not as high as RV2, RC, RD... higher than most), BQ (not as hight as RD and RV), MQ

Lil Hany: IQ (motocross smart), EQ (emotional intelligence low.... implodes often), BQ (not as hight as RD and RV), MQ (suspect)

If I were an O'Mara Hughes Baker, I would work on increasing IQ, EQ, BQ, and MQ. I believe you'll see Hughes in the future take EQ to new heights. I am very excited about his program

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bd

3/20/2013 12:24 PM
Edited Date/Time: 3/20/2013 12:29 PM

PFO186 wrote:

i remember andrew short mentioning what allows certain people to be fast, and it made sense to me. He said it's the ability for a persons brain to process whats going on better. to be able to take in whats coming at you, adjust and react to it. if we tried to go stew's speed, we'd cartwheel and not even know what happened because our brains can't process what's going on fast enough. i think this is true for any racing, but with moto you obviously have the athletic side of things (balance, strength etc...).

That sounds about right. I am pretty sure I have heard something similar applied to Formula 1 drivers before.

This is a good thread - why some people are inherently faster is something that has always intrigued (and frustrated) me.

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3/20/2013 12:28 PM

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bd

3/20/2013 1:18 PM

mgifracing wrote:

Pastrana did pick one thing and stuck to it. MAKING MONEY, He figured out how to do so in whatever he tries, Smartest motorcycle rider ever or just the best publicised.

That's a fair point... I didn't think of it quite that way. One aspect is that he has the right people around him to help him out with the making money part. Perhaps he learned that as a result of his pro-motocross career.

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3/20/2013 1:22 PM

There is at least one industry insider (non-racer) who swears there is a wheelie gene..........

Seriously after talking with many of the top pros it seems one common trait is the ability to process information at a different speed than is considered normal. Combine that with unusual inner ear balance and you have the needed combo. Add in an aggressive attitude and you have champ potential.

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3/20/2013 2:07 PM

Heart, desire, athletic ability, thousands of hours of practice and in today's racing climate- lot's of money. (and some luck too)

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3/20/2013 2:33 PM
Edited Date/Time: 3/20/2013 2:35 PM

No go fast gene.. The difference is all mental make up, period.

At young ages the greats get locked in the zone at some point. Your on top of the world and can't do a damn thing wrong while locked in this unbreakable mental state.. These few continue to get "locked in" and are capable of shutting off everything to remain there. This includes such things as pressure, phyisical pain, problems outside the job and yes you guessed it FEAR..

All pros have been there, but the greats continue to find this special place.

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"I'm just Realville here, don't give me the bullshit."-Bob "hurricane" Hannah

3/20/2013 3:05 PM

God I love actually being able to cruise through a "great thread" on here!

Good Job Titan! Some very interesting opinions on this.

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And there goes Jeffro. One of God's own prototypes. A super high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.

Pimpin' Ho's , Rollin' fatty's......drinkin' beers , beers , beers!! ~ Ja

3/20/2013 5:51 PM

Something repeated by the greats I always found interesting is the fact they were driven by their fear of failure.

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"I'm just Realville here, don't give me the bullshit."-Bob "hurricane" Hannah

3/20/2013 6:34 PM

i have always said that those guys brains click to a different tune....we can rail a turn as fast as you think possible and it's equal to their speed, first turn, straight out the pits on a warm up lap. our rough their smooth, our late braking point they're still wfo....definately processor speed and some other things.

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3/20/2013 7:19 PM

Old souls who in past lives have had experience with sword fighting seem to have the same traits.

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3/20/2013 8:27 PM

"Talent" is a hard thing to define...I've come across a few "talented" riders who don't have to put in the amount of time everyone else does to get fast. it just comes natural to them. I've seen it in school/ college where some people just "get it" right away with difficult subjects. It always drove me a little crazy to be around those people!
I was a pretty good baseball player growing up starting to play at 5. when I was in High school I was MVP my senior year and played above my age bracket all through little league as an All-star. I have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and I was quite competitive in tournament fighting, which gave me good balance and quick reactions. I'm a very aggressive competitor by nature, so despite not racing until I was 21 I have been a competitive 30+ expert. I know my aggression serves me well in racing, but having crashed hard a few times I know that has slowed me down/ calmed me down quite a bit over the last few years. I know if I would have started earlier I would have turned Pro, but a top flight factory pro.....I never had the "talent" to reach that level. The guys at the top of this sport are the perfect storm of aggression, quick reflexes, dedication, balance, opportunity and luck.

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3/20/2013 8:56 PM

PFO186 wrote:

i remember andrew short mentioning what allows certain people to be fast, and it made sense to me. He said it's the ability for a persons brain to process whats going on better. to be able to take in whats coming at you, adjust and react to it. if we tried to go stew's speed, we'd cartwheel and not even know what happened because our brains can't process what's going on fast enough. i think this is true for any racing, but with moto you obviously have the athletic side of things (balance, strength etc...).

This has always been in line with my theory. I believe some people see things in "slow motion" so to speak. What seems fast to some is not to others. This goes hand in hand with the ability to focus better.

Used to ride with a guy that spoke about like Mountain Man from Duck Dynasty....very sloooooow. As a matter of fact he did everything slow until you put him in or on something with an engine. Then it was on. The dude could haul ass in MX, enduro, road racing, speedway bikes, dirt track cars, drag cars... You name it, he could do it fast but you'd never know it by his mannerisms.

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3/21/2013 12:35 AM

peelout wrote:

seems like the red-heads can twist it a little further.

no idea why.

had a ginger in my age group BMX racing and we all though he had a motor on his 20" powerlite.

on a serious note, not to gloat, but i have a group of friends that i'm always that little bit better than them at everything. mx, bmx, dirtjumping, mtnbikes, pool, golf, videogames, baggin' fatties, nunchucks, etc. my one friend takes it personal. i think it's a competitive nature of some people are not willing to be beat. not saying i'm unable to be beat, but i am a very very competitive dude.

good topic Titan, bro

I guess you were joking about the ginger stuff, but I've actually heard that redheads were sought in Roman times to make into warriors because they were just more badass. I'm not sure if there are studies, but it sounds like there really could be a genetic advantage to being a ginger.

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3/21/2013 1:45 AM

I wonder if a lack of 3D perception could have something to do with it. Apparently a surprising last percentage of the population can't detect 3D and thus their depth perception is different. My mum is one of these people and she seems to have a hard job gauging speed.

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